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California Desert Itinerary


Stovepipe Death Valley California

Desert / Los Angeles / San Diego – 7 days

Places visited:

  • Los Angeles
  • Fontana
  • Cabazon
  • Palm Springs
  • Joshua Tree National Park
  • San Diego


Day 1 Los Angeles

Santa Monica Beach, Los Angeles, California

Santa Monica Beach, Los Angeles, California

Spend the afternoon acting like a celebrity at Universal Studios Hollywood, hanging with Mickey at Disneyland, or mingling with the locals at the Santa Monica Pier. See how you measure up to your favorite star at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, filled with 200 celebrity handprints, footprints, and signatures. Saunter along one of the world’s most famous sidewalks – the Hollywood Walk of Fame – and try to find your favorite star along the path. Let a little Hollywood glamour rub off on you by dining and clubbing in this fantastic city. Overnight in Hollywood.

Day 2 Fontana/Cabazon/Palm Springs

In the morning, race on over to Fontana, home of the California Speedway. Just an hour east of Hollywood off I-10, “America’s Ultimate Race Place” features exciting races and A-list concerts. Or test your skills at Drivetech Racing School and feel the adrenaline rush through your blood as you thunder down the track. After lunch, discover a different thrill  the rush of finding your favorite items at bargain prices. Just 45 minutes east on I-10, Cabazon Outlets offers everything from Brighton Collectibles jewelry and Columbia Sportswear, to Crate and Barrel Outlet, Reebok and Guess Accessories. Afterwards, drive just 20 minutes more to upscale Palm Springs, filled with artsy shops, galleries, and museums as well as Art Deco boutique hotels that are works of art in their own right. Enjoy dinner under the stars at a casual café or with the utmost elegance at a five-star restaurant, followed by a late night trying your luck at a local casino. Overnight in Palm Springs.

Day 3 Palm Springs

In the morning, soar 2,500 meters up Mount San Jacinto via Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, featuring the world’s largest rotating tramcars for the ultimate views of the desert valley. Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness offers 54 miles of hiking trails, ranging from the awe-inspiring 9-kilometer trek to the 3300-meter peak of San Jacinto to the brief nature walk through picturesque Long Valley. Enjoy a late lunch at the Peak Restaurant, which offers fine contemporary California cuisine. In the afternoon, adventure into some of the nearby desert communities for world-renowned golfing and spa experiences. Return to downtown Palm Springs for dinner and nightlife.

Day 4 Palm Springs/Joshua Tree National Park

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California

In the morning, drive about 90 minutes east on I-10 to visit the eerily beautiful Joshua Tree National Park, where the Sonoran and Mojave deserts meet. In the higher Mojave portion of the park, a forest of the strange Joshua Trees – most recently made famous on a U2 album – and a number of unique rock formations called Inselbergs are protected. In the lower Colorado portion, the Pinto Basin exhibits the plants of the hotter Sonoran Desert. Both areas feature surprisingly diverse geography, wildlife, flora and fauna, and great hiking trails. In the early afternoon head back to the Coachella Valley Preserve, a 13,000 acre preserve containing the spectacular Thousand Palm Oasis and rare wildlife, as well as hiking and riding trails. Return to downtown Palm Springs for dinner and a performance of the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, a world-famous, Broadway-caliber celebration of the music, dance, and comedy of the 30’s and 40’s. Overnight in Palm Springs.

Day 5 San Diego

Get an early start and drive two hours east towards San Diego, a beautiful coastal city with a high desert terrain and comfortable year-round climate. Dive right into SeaWorld San Diego and spend the day with Shamu® and friends. You can challenge the thrills of Journey To Atlantis® one minute and touch a dolphin the next and take in numerous attractions, exhibits, and shows. Another option is to find your powers at LEGOLAND California, where everyone in the family becomes a hero. With more than 60 super rides, shows and attractions, it’s an entire day of family fun. For dinner and fun after dark, visit the Viejas Casino and Outlet Center, featuring fabulous restaurants, gaming, shopping, and headliner acts. Overnight in San Diego.

Day 6 San Diego

Take a walk on the wild side and go on safari at San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Experience a unique adventure at the 1,800-acre park, where animals wander freely in surroundings much like their native homelands. An African tram safari, pathways, and animal shows enable visitors to observe the animals and many species of exotic plants. Or head over to the San Diego Zoo, which cares for more than 4,000 individual animals representing 800 different species. Its collection of animals, as well as its plant collection of over 6,500 species, is acknowledged as one of the finest in the entire world. Among these animals are some of the rarest wildlife in the world, including koalas and giant pandas. Later in the afternoon, hop of an Old Town Trolley Tour, which gives a great tour of San Diego’s various attractions and the resort island of Coronado. For dinner and nightlife, don’t miss the historic Gaslamp Quarter, filled with hip eateries, shopping, and entertainment.

Day 7 Depart Los Angeles

If time permits, visit the Getty Villa, an educational center and museum dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria. Or visit the Griffith Observatory, a world leader in public astronomy. Since 1935, the Observatory has given tens of millions of visitors the opportunity to become observers, enjoy exciting planetarium shows and astronomy exhibits. After lunch in downtown L.A., head to the airport.